Duval County Fever — I am Not A Believer

Came home from church group almost unable to drive. 100-degree temp, body aches, chills, sore throat/swollen glands, no appetite (so you KNOW I’m sick). About to cancel on my Bartram Trail-Ponte Vedra football assignment Friday night and unless I make a full recovery all of Saturday is going to be off the board as well.

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Guest Clinicians Rep BTS-NEFL on Channel 4 Morning Show

I haven’t seen the broadcast yet, so I can only say that it is very good for the sport as a whole, and potentially good for the sport in Northeast Florida, to have Olympic gold medalists and current US National Team members here in Jacksonville talking about wrestling.

Guest clinicians Andrew Bisek and Nick Alvarez, along with 2000 Olympic heavyweight Greco-Roman champion Rulon Gardner, appeared on WJXT-Channel 4’s morning show (if I recall correctly) at 8:45 a.m. to talk about the sport in advance of the BTS clinics that start tonight for parents and coaches only at Murray Middle School in St. Augustine and pick back up again on Saturday morning with the Champions Clinic, again at Murray MS, and then the gala Saturday night in Jacksonville Beach. I’ve provided links in earlier posts for those, I’d refer you to the BTS-NEFLA website for those.

At the same time, while I’m glad that these events are here — and I hope they continue — what is just as needed, if not more so, is a regular presence for the sport in the local media. At the same time that one-off appearances with cute kids and/or elite current or former wrestlers provides a much-needed spotlight, what the TV stations need to do is SHOW UP at tournaments and highlight duals during the course of the season. Since I’ve been here, I’ve seen one TV station hit #UncivilWar, and that was in 2014. There were no televised highlights in 2014-15, of ANY event. During the regular season, my coverage for the T-U was all it had. I am doing my best to cultivate relationships in order to change that, but I am only one person. I don’t have connections, an unlimited budget, or unlimited amounts of other resources.

What is also needed is greater participation in off-season work. Can’t stress that enough. I don’t know that the BTS clinicians would absolutely agree with me, but I’m pretty confident — even though I’ve never competitively wrestled a day in my life — that they would.

There’s a reason that Flagler Palm Coast, Clay and Fleming Island stand head and shoulders ahead of the rest of the coverage area. They go most of the year, with only short breaks. The result? In-season success and an ability to keep up with South Florida and the CFWA/Westside WCs and the like. Think those teams stop? The hardware they’re earning at states, and the accolades they’re picking up in the off-season (national rankings, Division I scholarships and an overall improvement in how Florida is viewed nationally) should tell you otherwise.

If your coach is not conducting off-season workouts, that’s no reason to stop once your season does. BTS is doing it out in Keystone Heights, but there are also multi-school clubs found in several places a little bit closer — River City Wrestling Factory, Duval Wrestling Academy, Pin N Win, Jacksonville Bulldogs, Knights Attack out in Oakleaf Plantation, Monsta in Lake City/Columbia County and there’s probably others I’m forgetting — all have off-season presence.

If you aren’t wrestling for your HS coach or for a club in the offseason, you will fall behind those who are. And that’s true regardless of who comes here, or what media takes notice.

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Bulldogs Send It In!

Last year’s season-long top-ranked Matmen-area team, Flagler Palm Coast, has submitted its schedule to give us 21 now for the season, and it is as tough as was promised. FPC will begin with a trip down to the H-Town Throwdown, hosted by South Miami, on the first weekend of the season, with tournament stops at Lyman (IBT), Manatee (duals), King of the Ring at Deltona (round-robin) and Five Star Conference, plus events it will host before Christmas (Flagler Duals December 22-23) and Rotary IJanuary 29-30). I need to find a way to be present for both of those, as well as for regions, which FPC is also hosting, even if it’s only for an hour or so to start the day Saturday.

The #BattleForFlagler will be in the Bulldogs’ gym this year on January 6, and there are two VERRRY intriguing duals on the schedule. FPC and Clay will link up on the final weeknight of the regular season, February 11, but a week before that the Bulldogs will go to Kissimmee to face Osceola. I imagine a lot of 3A attention statewide will be focused on that dual.

Even the FPC JV schedule — with a Springstead tournament right off the bat — is more rigorous than many varsity schedules. This is how programs get built. Iron sharpens iron.

OK…who’s NEXT??

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UNF team announces 2015-16 NCWA schedule

UNF’s National Collegiate Wrestling Association team has posted, on its Facebook page, the 2015-16 schedule. Highlights include:

  • October 18: USF Preseason Duals, Tampa
  • November 14: Knights Brawl, UCF, Orlando.
  • January 9: Florida Classic, Gainesville.
  • January 22-23: National Dual Meet championships, Dalton, GA
  • January 31: Florida Dual Meet championships, Tallahassee.
  • February 13: Seminole/Rattler/Eagle Invitational, Tallahassee.
  • February 27: Southeast Conference meet, Orlando.
  • March 10-12: NCWA National Championship, Kissimmee.

I may try to get down to nationals, and if I can track results in-season, will post them. Results are sometimes a challenge to find.

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When No News Isn’t Good News

I’m still waiting to hear something from coaches at the following schools:

  • Atlantic Coast
  • Paxon
  • Stanton (this one I did hear from the AD on)
  • Providence
  • University Christian
  • Eastside

There are many others that we’re still waiting on schedules for, but these seven I have nothing for as of yet.

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#NextLevel: Campbell Cup silver for Marshall, Sampsel battles at Journeyman Classic

Brandon Marshall (Bishop Snyder '14, top row, far left) and his UNM-OTC teammates pose with their hardware won Saturday at the Eduardo Campbell Cup in Santiago de Verguas, Panama.

Brandon Marshall (Bishop Snyder ’14, top row, far left) and his UNM-OTC teammates pose with their hardware won Saturday at the Eduardo Campbell Cup in Santiago de Verguas, Panama.

Seven Northern Michigan University/Olympic Training Center wrestlers, including Matmen-area alumnus Brandon Marshall (Bishop Snyder ’14), medalled at the Eduardo Campbell Cup, contested on Saturday in Santiago de Verguas, Panama.

Marshall, competing at 85 kg/187 pounds for NMU-OTC, posted a 3-1 record in the event for his silver medal. Marshall had technical-fall victories over Costa Rica’s Andres Hernandez (9-1) and Verguas Panama’s Eric Ramos (9-0), with a forfeit victory over Herrera Panama’s Juan Perez. Marshall’s lone loss came against Panama’s Elton Brown in a 4-1 decision.

Marshall’s silver-medal effort helped pace the NMU-OTC team to a third-place team finish, with 45 points. Host Verguas was the top club, with 48 points.

The lone gold medalist for NMU-OTC was Austin Morrow of Wenatchee, Wash., who went 4-0 at 66 kg/145.5 pounds. Adding silver medals, along with Marshall, were Chris Gonzalez (75 kg/165 lb) and West Cathcart (98 kg/215 lb). Matmen was fortunate to also cover Cathcart’s high-school wrestling days from his time in northwestern Illinois.

Bronze medalists for NMU-OTC were Dalton Roberts (59 kg/130 lb), Taylor Doan (75 kg/165 lb) and Vinny Torres (75 kg/165 lb).

For a fuller recap, visit http://www.teamusa.org/USA-Wrestling/Features/2015/October/04/Morrow-wins-gold-NMU-gets-seven-medals-in-Panama

  • Sampsel competes at Journeyman Classic: Fleming Island Xaiver Sampsel finished fourth in Pod D at 135 pounds in the Journeyman Classic on Sunday, held at Union College in Schenectady, NY. Sampsel had three matches on the day. In pool competition, Sampsel lost by decision, 5-2, to Zach Melloh of Indiana Outlaws and won by fall in 1:15 over Nino Casaburi, location unknown. Sampsel then lost by decision, 4-0, to Cameron Devers of The Crew.
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Once again, it needs to be said…

We’re all on the same team here. Please try to remember that. I want people to be respectful, in every way that being respectful requires. Respectful to the kids who are attempting to do their best in this sport. Respectful to the other adults that might happen to support another team. And, respectful to the site and mindful of the fact that its founder is a volunteer, with no dog in the fight, and — often times, and particularly out of season — not sitting on his computer 24/7/365. A couple of times in the past week, I’ve been lectured about something I already knew about and there was one other instance where it just seemed that a comment was made that wasn’t necessary to be made. Unfortunately, both came from — more or less — the same source.

My emotions about the things in my life are still pretty raw right now. I’m, therefore, a bit touchier about things than I would otherwise usually be. I am willing to own that. And so for now, that’s it.

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